Anyone else struggling w effing housework and chaos?

Not sure why I'm even posting this, except maybe someone here has it figured out. Or just for commiserations. :-)

The good news is that I am lucky duck. I love my partner and we have a great life. The bad news is that I'm exhausted (recently found out I'm undermedicated and am on an increased dose), my house is in total chaos and I don't know where to start. Every morning I get up, empty the dishwasher, tidy the kitchen, deal w any washing, cook dinner and, um, not much else. That's as far as I get. I might clean a bathroom or sweep floors but in terms of attacking an area in need of organising I can't get my head around it. It feels like I just don't have the cognitive wherewithal to think it through. I feel like crying every time I think of sorting it all out.

Before I moved in w my partner I lived in a one-bed flat and, except for sometimes struggling w paperwork (my achilles heel), I felt pretty on top of things. Now due to developments both good and bad, I split my time between three homes - mine, my mum's and a tiny place near my in-laws - and the endless packing and unpacking, combined with being away a lot and the fact that there are at least two decorating projects on the go in my house right now, I just can't seem to make sense or order of it.

My partner is lovely and supportive and has energy and enthusiasm for two, but he is very time-poor.

I'm about to go back to my mum's for a month and I really want to sort this before I go.

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45 Replies

  • Be kinder to yourself. You are undermedicated and bound to be exhausted. I've just come out of a long spell of feeling the same and getting nothing done, but now I'm well, tasks that were daunting are getting done super fast. Just do what really needs to be done for the moment, it'll take up to 6 weeks for you to fully feel the benefits of your medication raise. By the time you get back from your mums you could feel like a whole new person! 😊

  • I do hope so. I feel more hypo than ever now really. It is such a dreadful feeling. Thanks for your reply. :-)

  • I am currently sitting at my computer surrounded by dirty dishes, washing, toys and rubbish. Don't worry about the cleaning.. if you ever have children, then mess is something you will get used to lol! Why don't you take it easy and watch a nice film instead? Or drink tea... After a while, you'll forget about the chores. I agree with Trixie33, be kind to yourself... that is good advice!

  • Oh blimey, kids. Just hearing that has made me feel shattered. But I'm almost 49 so I think I'm out of the woods. :-) Thanks for your reply.

  • Oh folks, you are very kind and your lovely words mean a lot to me. I promise I'm not too hard on myself. What I'm trying to do is make it so that I can achieve something - eg cooking dinner - without having to first move/wash/throw away three piles of something or other. Living this way is hard and requires a lot of extra work, which I don't have the energy to do. It isn't a very restful atmosphere.

    Believe me when I say that if resting (ie doing nothing) was a sport I'd have medals. If it helped I'd be prone from dawn to dusk, but you know that unproductive hypo sleep that feels like it never happened? That's what I've got. So resting has no beginning or end.

    The decorating projects have rather bled into all areas of the house, so there is nowhere that feels peaceful. I'm hoping we can crack on this weekend and maybe get something finished. This is a problem that needs solving.

  • Good luck! PS I slept much better once I started taking Magnesium Glycinate about two hours before bed. B12 and D3 helped boost energy quite quickly too. I take them in the morning with my other supplements

  • Thanks!

    Once I have my blood test in Sept I will resume supplementing and as you say that can make you feel so much better. I'm self-injecting b12 so that should be good but I wonder if I may be very anaemic and low in d. I stopped my supplements, partly because I had a colonoscopy but also because nothing was being monitored. So fingers crossed, roll on Sept.

  • Decorating won't be helping your health (fumes) so I'm sure you'll feel better for getting away from it.

    Quentin Crisp said something about the dust not getting any worse after the first 4 years ...

  • Yes, quite. I have actually made my peace with dust! It is my least troublesome housekeeping task.

    I bought a feather duster and sometimes flounce about with it, not achieving all that much but enjoying the idea that it is doing something. It's great for high cobwebs and the picture rail, or at least it's relatively great if I have no plans to get on a ladder and do it properly. I think 'better than nothing' is an accurate description.

  • If you hang things on the back of a chair for long enough they don't need ironing. If you buy enough cheap plates you can wash up once a day.

  • Commiserations. I hear you. Really wish I had the answer.

    I've always worked well from lists. I can't even do that at the moment.

    Sending you waves of solidarity.

    Lu xxx

  • Oh bless. Thanks Lu. Your solidarity means a lot. It's nice to know that other people struggle with this, like it isn't some kind of awful singular affliction but kind of a grind for anyone who isn't a natural at it, or whose health is compromised. xx

  • I can certainly relate to this: in my 9th year of being bed-based. If I identify anything that needs tidying or sorting it doesn't just take the day it used to it takes months. We had some work done in the kitchen last November that should have been sorted within a month and then organic low emission paint organised for a quick dash round by my husband. Well that was the plan. The workman turned out to be incompetent so my kitchen and the room next door are full of stuff - still waiting for the kitchen to be fixed. My bedroom may be dusty and a bit unorganised but it is my sanctuary. Concentrate your efforts on the room that you rest in and on food production and try to close the door on the rest, if not actually then metaphorically. You really do need to be kind to yourself as medical conditions and travelling around are both tiring.

  • Very good advice about having a peaceful part of the house. I'm so sorry to hear you're not well and your home improvement project sounds like an ordeal.

    Part 2 of our project also involves the kitchen, which is just so awkward. Kitchens and bathrooms are awful when undergoing improvements. Though I do hope once it's done I will never have to do it again. I hope the same for you and your kitchen!

  • I have a cartoon pinned on the cork board in my kitchen. Two women sitting on a sofa. Both holding a glass of wine. One woman says "Have you thought about doing the vacuuming?". And the other woman says "Yes, but that's as far as I got".

  • Ha, yes I am quite good at thinking about it. :-)

  • No need to be quite as obsessive as her, but read Marie Kondo, 'The life changing magic of tidying up'

  • My word, that book is everywhere! Did you follow her advice?

    Once, back when I moved into my tiny flat, I managed to get myself into a bottleneck with things and not being quite clear about how to store them in the new space, so even though I was quite impoverished, I hired a 'clutter clearer' person. She was worth every penny and taught me more than anyone else in my life ever did about organisation. It was a wonderful experience.

  • I'm not as extreme as her, not naturally tidy, but I did use the book as an excuse to declutter my own stuff (all those things that didn't bring me pleasure, but I felt I should keep). And I use some of her folding techniques.

    My main problem is that having that having chucked out my worn out fleeces and T-shirts I have nothing to wear!

  • De-clutter as much as you can, it makes for more space and much less to worry about.

  • Well, we are maximalists :-) which does not help. But I have had a huge wardrobe declutter, which I enjoyed immensely.

    You're correct of course. This is the heart of the matter. I can deal with my ordinary cluttery way of being, but as soon as it grows another layer (eg decorating things) I've nowhere to go, it is too much.

  • Can you afford to pay a decorator and a professional organiser. It is hard I know, I am a bit like you, do odd bits but no spring cleaning which weighs heavy on my mind.

    Get well soon.

    M 😀

  • Many thanks for your kind wishes. I wish I had been more vociferous about this project. Yes, we could have got a decorator. Yes, it is saving us a lot of money, but if I'd known how awful I'd feel now I would've refused to get involved. I have said this is the last project I will participate in, and to be fair we are taking the money we saved and putting it into a different project that will - thank goodness - not be taking place in my home.

    Arrgghh, it is the spring clean that weighs heavy. A full clean every two weeks would help a lot. I may need to sort out a person wot does.

  • Some Agencies have hired help for one-offs or spring cleans which can be useful as opposed to having somebody regularly. Have a look in local papers or on line for Agencies, this would take away the concern about cleaning.

  • My home is "lived in". Every time I straw up the animals, half a bale seems to come in with me. I am sitting here with a bramble in my hair, and I am sure that stain on my jeans is pig poo. I dont care - and if anyone else cares, that is their problem! Friends who also farm have the same lived in look.

    When I have a big tidy job to do (mostly outside) I nibble at the edges. Pick up one thing and put it away. Then maybe pick up another and put that away, then as I cannot get to where they need to be put away, I find myself tidying that bit instead. Still, one thing at a time! Try the nibble technique - I find the thought of doing it the biggest barrier. Your health is more important than dust!

  • Have you ever seen a film of ants stripping a carcass? Goodness knows where I saw this, but I think it was some sort of carnivorous ants eating a dead elephant. Awful subject matter aside, it is quite an awesome concept, that these tiny insects can carry away the flesh of a vast creature tiny bit by tiny bit. So I do sometimes think of that as inspiration.

  • Hi, punctured bicycle. I've only just spotted this. Be kind to yourself. There's only so much you can do in a day. I have had days when if I fill the am and pm I'm flat out in the evening. (It 's 2 out of 3, you see)

    When you're not right looking at what's around, you can only see chaos. When you're able to do it, it will make sense again. You'll wonder why it wasn't obvious that "That's what I need to do first!"

  • Yes, you're right about how I will one day be able to do it and wonder why it wasn't obvious, you've hit the nail on the head. There is deffo a cognitive aspect to it, like I just can't grasp the end of the thread. I do SO much better when I'm in a team, like I can manage the decorating when we're both doing it together because I can follow the order if it is put in front of me, but trying to make a plan and follow it through feels beyond me.

    I understand that some people may beat themselves up or have unrealistically high expectations but I don't really feel like that's me, it's more that I just find the chaos very weighty and exhausting and an orderly environment is so much more restful. I'm also very frustrated at my mind/body sort of failing me, you know?

  • I am at the stage of wanting a skip to pile in the 'ill clothes' and anything that I do not want to dust/store anymore (or want to pay someone else to dust). Lying in bed for over 8 years really concentrates the mind! I fully understand the mind/spirit cost of feeling unsettled by your surroundings. Having thought that I was not in the slightest bit minimalist I find that I want uncluttered surroundings in which my mind and body can rest, although I am still not at the white art gallery end of the spectrum for home decor. I have had to involve a solicitor for my kitchen to get the issue resolved but after all this time we will be throwing money at the problem as we are heartily sick of the whole thing. Good luck.

  • This reminds me of the advice from a Buddhist, make a space even if it is only a corner, somewhere you can sit and rest or meditate, perhaps a small table with a vase of flowers and a candle, a cushion to sit on or a small chair, somewhere you can find a little peace of mind. This would give your mind a rest and enable you to perhaps cope when you are faced with chaos and have somewhere to escape to when needed.

  • No wonder you are exhausted, flitting between three homes!

    I travel up north once a month for the weekend and that on it,s own exhausts me

    I get back on a Sunday night , but it,s often Wednesday before I unpack my rucksack lol

    My house often resembles a scene from Withnail and I

    Before becoming ill, I used to be quite houseproud

    When things first started to slide I used to panic about it and worry that I would never again catch up on myself

    These days I set little targets,,,ie make a good stew,,,or send that important email,and when I have completed that target I congratulate myself for doing so

    Try it,,,it does make you feel slightly better about things

    Also enlist as much unpaid help that is available to you (friends/family) and pay for as much help as you can afford ( I use an ironing service)

  • Withnail and I is my favourite film. How apropos. 'Don't attempt anything without the gloves.'

    Your advice is good re paid help. I think I need to steel myself to organise a spring clean, maybe a cleaner (or team of cleaners) when the decorating is done. I am weirdly squeamish about having people poking around in the house but I see no other way forward. As far as unpaid help, my partner is great but he is already working so hard at work and at the projects at home (we're painting the stairwell, omg, nightmare) I'd like to avoid asking him to do more.

    Like you I do a little bit and sit back and bask in the glory of having done something, but I'm barely holding back the tide of the rest of it and I just can't really relax when I have this feeling of it all waiting for me.

    Yes, all the flitting among the houses. Some of it is for nice reasons and some for less nice reasons, but I'm not very good at it and it does seem to make an awful lot of assorted bags of things that require emptying and replenishing.

    I do make an awful lot of freaking nice food tbh, every day I cook fresh food for every meal, so that is a thing to feel good about. I'm not really doing myself down, I just will feel better if things are more orderly.

  • Fresh food well done, most important of all.

  • When I first got married (in my 20s) my husband and I used to clean the whole house from top to bottom every Sunday. I never enjoyed it, it was hard work, but I could do it. And because everything was done once a week it never got very bad and things could be cleaned quite quickly.

    Then I started back-sliding. I've been back-sliding for 25 years now. I look at a job to be done and just feel defeated. I don't have the physical or mental strength to do things very often, and the bigger the job the more defeated I am, and the less likely I am to do things.

    I keep up with the laundry, change the sheets regularly, and we don't starve. But that is about all. Everything else gets left and left and left.

  • Yes, this is the thing isn't it, that if you can do a good clean regularly it never gets a chance to get that bad. We used to have a cleaner and even a clean once a fortnight is great as we're only two adults and can do the upkeep in between.

    A good cleaner would solve the current problem, but finding one and then being able to tidy up and prepare for them to come is another whole issue.

    I too feel defeated before I get started, esp w the decorating chaos everywhere. When that is put away things will begin to make more sense.

    Like you, there are the things I do every day, that, to be fair, never go undone. But anything beyond that seems to be too much for me to get my head around.

  • I once read somewhere that if you are on your deathbed the last thing you'll regret is not doing more housework! See friends, go out, and enjoy as much as you can. The housework will still be there!

    That said, I do struggle to keep up with everything, and it seems to be getting harder. I love my garden, but can't do as much out there as I used to.

  • I'm so grateful for this post, knowing I'm not alone and its been interesting to follow.

    I was diagnosed with underactive thyroid in 2013. Slowly, I'm finding my energy levels & brain matter diminishing. Energy wise, I use to play squash and badminton up to early 2015. Now I am finding "home" and "work" routines very challenging, both physically and mentally.

    Just this week, I went to see my GP to complain about my symptoms and he has requested a more detailed blood test. I just can't get my head around things anymore. I pride myself on being very organised, putting things into a logical order and getting them done.

    So thank you "puncturebicycle" for starting the post and to everyone else who replied. It's good to know loads of people out there with the same issues. As I was beginning to wonder if my symptoms where in my head, or I'm on the road to dementia.

  • Oh I do wish you better health in the future. Your gp sounds like he is listening (if he has ordered the thyroid tests that is). It makes a huge difference to be on enough of the right meds. I did feel well for about six months after adding t3 so I know it can be done.

    It is the cognitive issue of struggling with making and following through on a plan which is the hardest part of this for me. Good luck with your tests and keep us updated on the outcome.

  • Thanks - I hope my problems can be sorted after the bloods test, which will include for the first time b12, folate, ferritin, TFT & others I don't understand.

  • Generally all you need to know is if anything can be improved and then act on improving it. I feel strongly that if as the doctors say there is a range of blood test results within which we might find well-being, we should be allowed to try to find our best level within that range, even if that means taking more meds or a combination of meds.

    If you bring your results here I'm sure all will be illuminated.

  • pb I do feel for you. One of the things I've found the most difficult is transititioning through clothes sizes...and having to wear broad fitting shoes, come to that. There are clothes in my wardrobes, hanging from doors, rails, choking up the utility room, my guest bedroom is full of them too. I refuse to give in to the concept of never being a size 16 again ( I know ) and having schriven myself of thousands of pounds worth of designer stuff to charity shops, I can't do it again -not just now, at any event.

    Every so often I have a blitz cleaner who comes in and does a deep clean on top of my weekly clean. I work...vaguely...but have had to swallow my guilt and just be grateful for my lovely tolerant husband and my sweet natured children who make a joke of not being able to find a peg to put their coats on when they visit.

    MariLiz is right. Do what you can to enjoy your life despite your condition. And that just isn't cleaning and decorating, is it ? Chillax :)

  • I have a problem that needs solving and when it is solved I will relax, but that isn't getting the job done.

    The blitz cleaner sound like just the thing. I just need to find someone and organise that top layer of stuff, clear the decks etc so they can get on w it.

    I appreciate what you're going through w clothes. I have just got rid of a bunch of clothes which I had expected to sell on eBay. Making that decision - that eBay wasn't going to happen - was fantastic. We have a charity shop that periodically lets us know what our stuff has fetched for them, which makes it all more rewarding.

  • I can absolutely relate to this, pb. Cleaning just got more and more difficult with various health issues. Worse still I grew up in a house where my mother was a cleaning fanatic so even though she's long gone, I still have that lodged in my brain! I am probably a far worse critic of my (lack) of cleaning ability than anyone else! Plus our house developed a number of problems that needed fixing, and all that does get one down. I felt quite depressed about the whole thing. Plus doing my back in I couldn't even indulge in a spot of gardening to cheer myself up, so that area turned into a jungle as well.

    For ages (probably a couple of years) I struggled with the idea of getting in a gardener - it felt like having someone encroach on one's territory, but in the end I took the plunge and got a chap in to help out (trouble is now he's done his back as well!).

    My partner is far too busy with his own job to have to start doing cleaning as well, it's just not fair on him. I came to the conclusion there's only so much dust and dirt you can have then it really gets no worse! We hadn't caught anything ghastly so it must be liveable. Besides, it's only in modern times we've had all those fancy cleaning products! We did have 3 cats though so you can imagine the fur!

    I did strike it lucky in the end, though. My neighbour needed work and I knew her cleaning was on a par with my mother's, if not even more so. We struck a deal and now she cleans for me every fortnight. The first few cleans took her many hours of work, to catch up with it all (8 years of neglect, anyone?), but now I am SO happy because the house feels fresh and that horrid feeling of being unable to cope has lifted.

    I do wish you well with your health. If you can afford someone to come in, trust me you'll feel like a whole weight has been lifted!

  • Many thanks.

    I don't have to imagine the fur as I live w two dogs! We used to have dogs who were a non-moulting breed (now both sadly gone) and our 'new' dogs are very much a moulting breed(s). You can imagine painting the floor in the summer w two moulting dogs in the house. There is an awful lot of wiping down, before and during the painting process.

    I am very very lucky and my partner's earning power is far superior to mine so we can afford a cleaner. Your lady sounds amazing and I'm very envious. It isn't easy to find someone you feel good about having in your house. I'm sorry if that makes me sound like some kind of princess, but like you say it feels like someone is encroaching on your private space. And I have a weird semi-phobia about having people in the house, but I'm going to have to get over that. I may get in touch w the last person who cleaned for us as I think she was fine. It will be good to have her when I go back to see my mum so things look good when I return.

    With the projects going on there is a layer of extra rubbish on top of the normal day-to-day stuff so I can't expect someone to find order in that. Once the stairwell painting project is over (I hope today is the last big push forward) we can clear away the paint pots, brushes, cloths, tape, filler etc etc etc.

    Thank you for not telling me to relax. :-) What I'm saying here, and I think you understand, is that despite my already very realistic standards this is a burden that grows every day and I am struggling to tackle it. Relaxing isn't a problem for me, but it doesn't get the job done. No one tells a hoarder to relax, or an addict, or someone who needs medical treatment. We don't say to people here who feel very ill, oh just relax and eventually you'll get better. Some problems require solutions. Then I won't have the problem and then I will really enjoy relaxing. :-)

  • It is a horrible, insidious burden that creeps up on one. It's not like the roof leaking which HAS to be sorted NOW, but the accumulation of fur, dust and dirt chips away, even if one decides to have a sort of 'tunnel vision'. Been there, done that! And it's not being a princess thinking twice or three times about who one should have in one's home. I wouldn't have believed it would be so hard to get the ball rolling until I was in that situation.

    I too am in the fortunate condition of having a partner with a decent enough wage to afford a cleaner and gardener. We could have had them sooner but it was my 'hang ups' about it all if you like. The thing with my neighbour is, she is having horrendous troubles with her house - structural, damp, etc, and has been struggling with getting those issues sorted out. She has probably several more years ahead of her before she'll achieve that. You might think why would she want to come over and clean my house! :D We've become friends and we can both share our 'incompletely decorated/restored' house problems with each other. I feel no embarrassment at the dust, dirt, poor state of repair etc with her and that's reciprocated. With anyone else I feel very self-conscious! She feels happy to help out and I think it's an escape from her own woes, and we often chat about our latest DIY issues and have a good laugh!

    Every so often my partner decides to do some 'work' round the house i.e. doing some plastering repairs, putting up some shelves, etc. Our poor vacuum cleaner has miraculously not failed yet despite the heavy abuse with plaster dust! :D We only moved into our refurbed bedroom after 7 yrs living here, before that we made our bedroom the dining room! We've always had one room as the 'work in progress', but other issues that crop up have resulted in delays, plus DIY on old houses never goes as one expects and takes far longer. I always say the day the house is finished it'll probably be time to move out elsewhere! Having said that, our neighbours of 10 yrs did exactly that. They'd done extensive work on the house, and having finished it, instead of enjoying the fruits of their labour, promptly sold it! LOL.

    But I digress. :D You'll get there (mentally) all in good time, be kind to yourself (which isn't the same as relaxing!). Let the idea of getting help in percolate round your mind until you feel ready to do something about it. I can see you're already headed in that direction. ;)

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